Ericka Sheppard

This 16-year-old rookie poet has emerged from the challenging Tenderloin district of San Francisco. As she faces the world with a sassy, humorous outlook, Ericka views poetry as a way of coping with the struggles of being a teen.

Ericka is clear about her goal to make the Youth Speaks San Francisco team: "I'm going to DC. I 'm not trying to make nothing. I'm going to DC. I know I am."

Ericka explains, "I always had very low self-esteem. And I was watching kids and writing poetry. When I went to this competition last year the only thing that I thought I was good at was watching kids. I came back this year and I know I am ready. It is a passion. It is no longer a workshop; it is no longer a competition. This is something that you always have to have with you at all times."

Ericka's passion, candor and humor get her on the road to Brave New Voices.